Roses preview

After a two year wait, there is finally going to be a four day Roses match this week. It has to be said though, that unless Lancashire play a lot better than they have shown for most of the start of the year and especially better than a fortnight ago against Middlesex, the match may not be worth the wait.

The match against Middlesex was not quite a shambles, but our batting effectively failed again. Whilst it was our highest first innings score this season, it was not nearly enough on a fairly flat wicket on which our bowlers toiled. Middlesex admittedly batted well, but it is worth remembering that going into that match they had faired little better than we had with the bat. Even with Kyle Hogg returning, only scoring 266 in a flat wicket in the first innings was simply not enough. Much as I hate to say it, Yorkshire look to be a strong side and they will provide just as much of a test as Middlesex did. The batsmen in particular will have to rise to this challenge much better.

Whether or not that will actually happen, we will have to see. The signs in the three day match against Loughborough MCCU were mixed, but it did seem a bit more of the same: a poor first innings total bailed out by a good performance with the ball and then a better batting display in the second innings. I don’t think that will be good enough against Yorkshire. Unfortunately there isn’t really an obvious solution. Luis Reece and Karl Brown both scored second innings runs, but that isn’t really a cause for optimism as much as it is a reason not to drop them.

If we do manage to get some runs on the board, I would back our bowling to be able to make inroads, but as we saw against Middlesex, that isn’t a guarantee. Jimmy Anderson will be absent again, though an attack of Glen Chapple, Kyle Hogg, Tom Smith (on current form) and Simon Kerrigan should be quite capable. It might be worth playing Kabir Ali as he has looked fairly sharp over the start of the season, but ultimately I would prefer not to weaken the batting any more.

I won’t actually be able to follow this match very closely though; I am currently at a radio observatory in the mountains of eastern California and will be throughout the match. This post was actually supposed to go up days ago, but due to packing and travel I could not quite finish it. I’ll be seeing score updates and my fingers are crossed, but I do worry that the typical turgid draw of a Roses match may be the best case result this time.

Lancs’ batting woes

Lancashire have played a quarter of their Championship matches this season and although it is still certainly early there are some areas of concern. Although our record (one win, two draws, one loss) is not really dire on the face of it, both draws were losing draws. We were saved by bad light against Warwickshire (admittedly after putting up a good fight) and by rain against Sussex. The bowling has been decent so far; the problem has very much been the batting. The extent to which we have struggled with the bat is highlighted by a glance at the Division One table; we have just one batting point from four matches. That by itself has actually cost us a place; our record is better than that of Nottinghamshire, but they have managed ten batting points which is enough for them to sit in sixth whilst we are in seventh.

Paul Horton has batted well at the top of the order, but then the entire middle order has consistently struggled and the fact that we scored enough runs to beat Northamptonshire was down largely to the efforts of Jos Buttler and Tom Smith down the order. Luis Reece still has promise, but he is yet to do in the first division what he did in the second last year. Andrea Agathangelou was dropped after the first three matches, but at least against Sussex Karl Brown and Steven Croft did not fare any better. Possibly most worrying is that Ashwell Prince has done very little to follow up his century in the opening match. Even before the season started it was clear that we were going to be relying on him to stabilise an inexperienced batting order and our struggles are directly tied to his struggles.

There isn’t an easy fix to this. It is reasonable to expect that a batsman of the potential of Reece will find some form as the season goes on and the same will likely be true of Prince. Brown and Croft have only had one innings and so might improve, but at the same time there is a reason they did not play at the start of the season. The only real active step Glen Chapple and Mike Watkinson can take right now is to try to find an overseas batsman for the remainder of the season. Simon Katich did an excellent job last year in that role; right now we really need someone who can do that again. There are unfortunately no obvious options and the fact that we are five weeks into the season with no overseas signing suggests that most of the less-obvious ones are not interested either. So it looks like we will be spending most or all of the summer hoping our current batsmen remember how to bat. Our bowling is good enough and there is enough promise in the batsmen that this isn’t a disaster, but I worry it will mean a pretty nervous (not to mention frustrating) summer in the bottom half of the table.

There is some good news ahead of tomorrow’s match against Middlesex, however: Kyle Hogg has recovered from the injury that kept him out of the first four matches of the season. Although Jimmy Anderson is unavailable after playing against Scotland this weekend, it does mean a return to something close to our first choice attack against a Middlesex side whose batting has almost been as frail as ours. If we can bowl first we have a good chance to bowl them out cheaply and then we might be able to ease some of the pressure on our own middle order. Fingers crossed…

Lancashire v Essex preview

Lancashire have their third home match in four games this week as they play Essex at Old Trafford starting on Tuesday. Both teams got their first win of the season last week and both in fairly dramatic fashion, so both will be looking to continue their momentum.

Lancashire will have two enforced changes from the attack that managed to defend 154 at Colwyn Bay last week. Jimmy Anderson will return to England duty ahead of next week’s first Test against New Zealand and Simon Kerrigan will be with the England Lions as they play a New Zealand XI starting on the ninth. I expect Wayne White will return to the side after he made a good start to his Lancashire career against Worcestershire and Stephen Parry looks likely to replace Kerrigan. Although this is an obviously weaker attack, it is still one capable of taking wickets. The main spearheads of Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg will still be present and White certainly poses an attacking threat. Those three will be backed up by Parry, who has generally been playing in the shorter forms, and Luke Procter whose bowling has been getting more incisive. Although it has been a bit difficult to take wickets at Old Trafford so far this season, I don’t think this attack will struggle any more than the others have done.

Lancashire’s top six should be unchanged; although they had a poor match at Colwyn Bay, they have been very good in the other two matches and twice put Lancashire into winning positions. Lancashire bat very deep, as Hogg showed at Colwyn Bay, but the upper and middle order have generally done well enough that this has not been needed. Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich in particular have been excellent. The only criticism that could be levelled is that they have not scored particularly quickly. Whilst there is no one who would prefer a quick 200 all out to a slow 450-7, it has hampered Lancashire’s ability to get batting bonus points and meant that when it has rained there has not been enough time left to force a result. Getting runs on the board is paramount, but if Lancashire can do it a little bit quicker in this match they will be better off than they have been.

Lancashire will be disappointed to see that Alastair Cook will be bolstering the Essex ranks. The visitors’ batting has been suspect at times this year, but having Cook at the top of the order will relieve a lot of the pressure on the middle order and Graham Napier has shown in each of their last two matches that they can recover from a pretty dire position. But at the same time that means that they have been in dire positions a lot and the Lancashire bowlers will be eying up the Essex middle order very keenly. There are a lot of single figure scores there and a lot of very quick collapses in the last couple of matches. The key for Lancashire will not only be to get into that position of strength, but to actually finish Essex off from there.

Lancashire may have to fight the weather again as well as Essex. The forecast for the first day is excellent; there is very little chance of rain and the temperature is supposed to get all the way up to 20°C. From there, however, there is a distinct chance of rain on the second and third days and it is supposed to get much colder as well. Lancashire’s best chance to win is probably to bat first, then try to score a bit quicker than they have done and get a good total on the board before spending the rest of the match trying to put the Essex batsmen under pressure. It is a tough ask, as it always is when overs are lost due to weather, and they have to get through Alastair Cook. But if they can get past Cook and Napier then the rest of Essex’s batting is flimsy enough that Lancs should have a very good chance to win even with the rain.

It’s very close, but I think Lancashire will win with a draw being the next most likely outcome. That’s not to rule out Essex who did well to bowl a solid Hampshire batting order out fairly cheaply last week, but much like when Lancashire played Kent I think a lot more will have to go Essex’s way for them to get into a winning position then it would for Lancs to do the same.

Lancashire won by 14 runs

Lancashire finally have their first win of the 2013 and secured it in dramatic fashion at Colwyn Bay. The win moves Lancashire up to third in the second division table, behind Northamptonshire who have had an excellent start to the season and Hampshire who have had the better of the bonus points.

It was in some ways the worst match Lancashire have played this year; certainly the batting failed to match the standard set in the opening two matches at Old Trafford. Lancashire dominated those two matches, but were never firm favourites at any stage of the match. It was at best very close right up until the last wicket fell and twice Glamorgan looked to be cruising to victory. The first time was when Simon Katich was given out to leave Lancashire effectively 45-7 in their second innings and the second was when Glamorgan were 94-2, needing just sixty more to win.

There were several heroes for the Red Rose in coming from the dead to win the match, but the biggest plaudits have to go Glen Chapple. He actually had not had a great start to the season. In the first two matches and the first innings of this one he had taken only 5-203. But he always seems to come up with something big when we need him; in this case he brought himself on with the cause seemingly lost and took three wickets, including both well set batsmen, to set Lancashire on the way to victory. He bowled for the remainder of the innings and then also broke a mini-partnership that was tilting the match back in Glamorgan’s favour. It was a staggering effort.

Although it was Chapple who made the breakthroughs and gave Lancashire a chance it was Simon Kerrigan who finished off Glamorgan with a five wicket haul and nine in the match. It was reminiscent of some of the performances he had in 2011 and in particular the last-gasp win against Hampshire. Kyle Hogg only bowled one over of the run chase, but he was instrumental in giving Lancashire a chance as he scored 47 in the second innings to make the total just large enough to defend.

Ideally this win will serve as a bit of a kick start to Lancashire’s season; now that they have a win and a bit of belief they need to consistently bowl sides out cheaply and start winning matches like the first two where they really did outplay the opposition. This match was not only the first in which they bowled out the opposition twice, it was the first in which they had even come close. Admittedly the rain had intervened in the other two, but this was still the best bowling performance of the year. What will also give Lancashire some heart was that it was not all done on the back of James Anderson and that there was enough time left that even if it had rained it would not have ruined the match. In the meantime they have a few days to enjoy the high of a remarkable win!

Lancashire v Kent preview

After a week off in round two of the County Championship, Lancashire are back in action this week with another home match, this time against Kent. Although there were quite a few positives to be taken from the draw against Worcestershire, Lancs could really do with a win this week. It is early yet, but the last thing we want is to have to make a late push to ensure promotion and I would much rather we get into a position of strength early on. Lancashire did win the last meeting between the two sides, back in 2010.

James Anderson returns to Lancashire’s side this week for the first of two matches allowed by the ECB this year. Not only is it good news for Lancashire that he is being allowed more time than last year, it is probably good news for Anderson as well who will have more time to find his rhythm ahead of the Test summer. Lancashire named a squad of 13 with Anderson simply added to an otherwise unchanged squad from the last match. After Wayne White had a good start to his Lancs career, my guess is that Anderson’s inclusion in the playing XI will probably come at the expense of Kyle Hogg. Given that our batting was much stronger than our bowling against Worcs, however, I would prefer him to replace Steven Croft as an extra bowler. We already had Glen Chapple coming in at nine against Worcs, so there is plenty of batting depth. That’s not to say that Croft really did anything wrong, but I think the balance of the side will be better with the extra bowling option, especially as Kent put up a total of 619 runs for only twelve wickets in their only match (admittedly against Leicestershire). Otherwise, I would name an unchanged side.

Hopefully the Old Trafford pitch has a bit more in it for the seamers this time and hopefully the weather stays away. Both were large factors in the draw two weeks ago and between them made sure there could be no positive result. Unfortunately, there is currently a moderate chance of rain on day one and decent chances over parts of the next three days, so it may be difficult once again to get a result. It’s also supposed to be generally cloudy and quite chilly, so all-in-all not great conditions.

The toss will probably be of some importance; I don’t know how how the pitch looks, but with day one looking the driest of the four the best option is probably to bat and try to put up a big total early. Lancs are certainly capable of this and getting Anderson a chance to bowl with Kent under some scoreboard pressure is probably the best way to win the match. But Kent do have a strong looking batting order, so there certainly are no guarantees. I think a draw is probably the most likely result; Lancashire certainly can win, but I think they will need to breaks with the weather and toss to go their way to do so. Kent should certainly not be written off, but I think Lancashire are the better side and Kent would need a lot to go their way to have a decent shot at victory.

Lancashire draw with Worcestershire

In a way, Lancashire started the 2013 season the way they ended the 2012 season: with a rain affected draw. But it did look like a significant improvement over last season and in particular the batting looked better. Lancashire were on top for a lot of the match and by the end they were the only team that had a chance to win.

Although it was a good match overall for Lancs, it was far from being one way traffic and the bowling sometimes lacked penetration as it did last season. Glen Chapple made the slightly odd decision to bowl first and whilst it was certainly not a terrible decision there did not seem to be a huge amount in the wicket for the seamers. They did well to get wickets at regular intervals on the first day, but always seemed to be about a wicket ‘behind’. On the second morning Worcestershire put on nearly a hundred for the seventh wicket to get themselves up to a good score. Although the rest of the match went emphatically Lancashire’s way and suggested that the pitch was quite flat, this was disturbingly reminiscent of the big partnerships that destroyed Lancashire last season. That said, Chapple and Kyle Hogg did bowl very well on the last day and were unlucky to only take one wicket.

The worst that could be said about the batting was that no one went on to get a century. Both openers registered fifties, however, and so did both Ashwell Prince and Simon Katich in the middle order. Those two did brilliantly on the fourth morning to make sure Lancs got a fourth batting point as well. They will certainly have sterner tests as the year goes on, but they could not have asked for a much better start. The fact that Paul Horton and Luke Procter both had good scores was particularly heartening. It was expected that Prince would have a good year and certainly hoped that Katich would. But Horton and Procter both struggled last year (along with much of the batting) and it was not all clear how they would do this year. And, to be fair, it still really isn’t; It has only been one game. But if they can consistently give Lancashire a solid platform that will go a long way to alleviating the problems of last season.

Lancashire do not play in the County Championship next week; they have a three-day friendly across the Pennines before playing Kent at Old Trafford on the 24th. Yorkshire started the season by being bowled out for 96 against Sussex, so this should provide an opportunity to try to get the bowlers into a bit of better form.

Lancs’ winter so far

Obviously the winter is just getting started; the County Championship ‘only’ ended about a month ago. But there have still been some moves of note from Lancashire, albeit few of them really done by the club.

The first is that Ajmal Shahzad did not stay with the club and instead went to Nottinghamshire. This is not a surprise, but it is a disappointment as it only adds to Lancashire’s need for bowling in depth. Sajid Mahmood was also released so Lancashire will need to either try to bring in a bowler (which will be difficult being in Division Two) or rely on someone like Oliver Newby, who had an excellent 2012 season with the second XI, to step up and be the full time third seamer. I would imagine that it will be the latter due to both the practical considerations of luring a bowler to a D2 side and the opportunity to see how someone like Newby gets on in the easier environment of the second tier.

Gary Keedy also left the club, going to Surrey. Whilst it is sad to see such a long time servant of the club go, it is certainly the best move for Keedy and probably the best move for Lancashire as well. Keedy did not get a lot of playing time this season because of the emergence of Simon Kerrigan and the scarcity of wickets on which two spinners could be played. It is likely that the same situation would have arisen again next year so it is hard to blame Keedy for wanting to leave. He will be missed, especially with regard to the tutelage he could give to Kerrigan, but with Stephen Parry also having a good season for the seconds it is at least not a major blow.

The good news, however, is that Glen Chapple will stay on as captain for another year. His ability to lead from the front has been invaluable and he was the only bowler to consistently perform last season. His steady hand at the tiller will give Lancashire a huge leg up on promotion next season.

Lancashire in 2012

After the euphoria of 2011, the comedown of 2012 could hardly be more pronounced. From Champions to relegated and with the added pain of Yorkshire going up, meaning no Roses cricket next year as well.

Listening to Lancashire all season, it felt almost like they never could quite ‘click’. They always seemed to be playing a little bit worse than they ought to be and when they improved it was short-lived. Fate did not help at all. Last season Lancashire only lost 200-odd overs to the weather. This year it was about nine times that much; over five full matches worth of time lost. In practice it completely ruined eight matches: against Somerset (twice), Notts, Sussex, Surrey (twice), Worcs and Durham. Not all looked like being Lancashire wins, of course (though the two against Somerset did), and when it didn’t rain Lancashire still lost more often than not. The result can certainly not be blamed on the weather, but it really did not help. The other bits of misfortune were injuries and the schedule. Tom Smith missed most of the season with a hamstring injury and showed at the end of the year just how much that hurt the team. Lancashire finally started hitting their stride and either won or came close to winning their three matches before the T20 break. But that month of pyjama cricket broke their momentum and form.

Still, it would be inaccurate and rather irresponsible to blame fate for Lancashire’s relegation. There were flaws with both the bowling and batting. The batting has looked quite poor as there were a number of dramatic collapses that seemed to all but put Lancashire out of matches. But whilst it is true that the batting was not great, it was probably not as bad as it first appears. The first thing to remember is that the conditions favoured bowlers all year. No team batted as well as one would otherwise expect and Lancashire’s total of 25 batting points was comfortably more than Durham and only one fewer than Nottinghamshire. The biggest problem for Lancashire seemed to be that there was a much greater reliance on one person this year: Ashwell Prince. Prince scored 1,008 run at an average of over 40 in 15 matches. But he had no support; the next highest tally was Steven Croft’s 666 runs at under thirty. The practical upshot was that sometimes the batting would fire and put Lancs in a good position and sometimes there would be an astonishing collapse.

Those collapses are quite memorable, of course, but the bowling was the much larger problem. The summer was so wet that the conditions very much favoured bowlers, but Lancs had a terrible time taking twenty wickets. In sixteen matches they took only twenty wickets only three times. It was very much the bowling that won the title last year, with three bowlers taking over fifty wickets in 2011 and Simon Kerrigan of course taking 24 in just four matches. Whilst it would be a lot to ask for a repeat performance, few of the bowlers even came close. The apparently ageless Glen Chapple took 42 over the course of the year (with a pair of five-fers, ten in one match and a bowling average of 24 over the course of the year) and Kerrigan still managed 44 on what tended to be fairly unhelpful pitches. But he did so with an average over 33 and the next highest wicket total was that of Luke Procter of all people with 25. This is not to say the bowling was uniformly terrible, but they did a terrible job of making the most of good starts. In the first match of the season, Sussex recovered from 13-3 to 300 all out thanks to a fourth wicket stand of 164 and unfortunately it was that which really set the tone for the season. Every match that was not badly rain affected had at least one century partnership for Lancashire’s opposition and usually they occurred after early collapses. Of particular import were Warwickshire’s stand of 224 after being 81-7, Worcestershire’s partnership of 127 after being 93-6 and of course Middlesex’s recovery to 446 after losing three wickets early. The first two probably cost Lancashire the match, and by extension their place in the first division, whilst the third all but broke the back of the season.

There will be some calls for change over the winter, I suspect, but I think restraint is important. There are changes we can make, but I think we only need a few. First is that we will need a replacement for Ashwell Prince, unless we can convince him to return. Whilst we have to back our batsmen to improve next year (we know they can play better than they did this year), they will be very much helped by having someone very good and reliable like Prince again. There aren’t a huge number of options due to the IPL and international commitments, of course, but there are a few who are in similar situations as Prince was and who we might be able to sign. But as I said above the bowling was the bigger problem. Ajmal Shahzad looked a decent addition (especially with Sajid Mahmood having a shocker of a season), but he did not actually come up with a lot of wickets. Kyle Hogg also had a poor season, Tom Smith was injured for much of the year and we seldom had chances to play both Keedy and Kerrigan. It’s probably fair to expect Hogg to have a better season next year. Shahzad and Mahmood are a lot more uncertain, but both are talented. I don’t think there is actually a lot we can do to improve the bowling from a personnel standpoint. There are no English players (and I’m assuming we use our overseas player for a batsman) who spring to mind who are all of available, affordable and a clear improvement to what we have. It’s not ideal, but I suspect we will have to make do with what we have. (And maybe hope we get Jimmy for more than just one match this time.) Really, it should be enough, though, especially in Division Two. I think in most cases one would expect it to have been enough in Division One.

I’m optimistic about Lancashire’s chances next season. Unless something goes very wrong in the winter (eg: Chappie retiring) we will probably be favourites to go straight back up. There are improvements to be made, but I think that sticking with the core of this squad will pay dividends.

Lancashire at Lord’s

Lancashire probably do not quite have everything to play for in these next two days against Middlesex at Lord’s, but they are not far from it. Coming into the match they sit 17 points behind Surrey and safety with a head-to-head match to close out the season next week. But for that match to matter they must stay in touch with Surrey this week and the more they can close the gap now the easier the task will be at Aigburth. Which makes it all the more disappointing that they conceded 446 in the first innings. That’s very much been the story of the season this year, but the match is not over yet. After 77 overs of their reply, Lancs are 236-3 at stumps on day two.

This sets things up all rather interestingly. Lancashire already have four bonus points from the match (three bowling and now one batting) and have almost exactly until lunch tomorrow to see what else they can get. Another two points should be on the cards and a third one (fourth overall) should be just about within reach. One hundred and fourteen runs in a session is certainly possible. But the match is not a guaranteed draw. Lancashire could still certainly lose it and there is even a (very) outside chance of winning. Meantime Surrey have a first innings lead over Notts, but only got five bonus points from that match. So how should Lancs approach things this morning?

My natural instinct is to play it safe. Lancs probably could get to a seventh bonus point tomorrow, but the risk is that they would find themselves 350-8 instead of 325-5 and in a position to lose the match rather than draw it. And there’s little use getting a seventh bonus point if it costs three points that would be earned in a draw. But there is one huge caveat: the second new ball. Twice in this match the new ball has wreaked havoc in the early morning. On day one Middlesex found themselves 39-3 after 11.2 overs with the new ball and on the second morning they went from 389-6 to 427-9 in 12.3 overs against a slightly older ball. Given the way Lancashire have batted this year, there is then every chance that a cautious approach may leave us 325-8 and in the worst of both worlds without both the extra point and the strong batting position.

So I would actually go against my instinct and advise the batsmen to play themselves in facing the three overs of the old ball and then try to get plenty off the new one. One of the advantages of the new ball is that it goes to the boundary easier and by all accounts the pitch is a road. There’s no need to go slogging, of course, but intelligent play and going for runs wherever possible should see Lancashire up past 350 and to a competitive total. Even if we are bowled out shortly thereafter (and even if we are seven or eight down there’s a decent chance the tail will put on a few) we will be within a hundred runs and still have another innings in which to bat. If the bowlers do their job it could yet be game on. More than anything else, however, Lancs must hope that Surrey do not beat Nottinghamshire as that would surely spell the end.

LV=CC week eleven roundup

It seems like it has been ages since there has been any Championship cricket. In fact it has only been a month, but a month of only white ball cricket at both the domestic and international level is a long time. Unfortunately it ended up a fairly uneventful week with all four first division matches finishing as draws and so far two of the three second division matches have also been drawn with Northants’ match against Glamorgan only through the second day.

There has been some movement in the tables, however, with Warwickshire getting enough bonus points to move into the top spot of Division One. The Bears have managed this with a match in hand against second-placed Nottinghamshire. Middlesex also picked up enough points to become the third side to 100 in the year, despite being bowled out for an Australia-esque 98 in their first innings. Whilst still outsiders for the title; they remain in the hunt. There was no movement at the bottom of the table with Worcestershire drawing with Durham and both sides remaining in the relegation zone. Division Two leaders Derbyshire did not play this week but Yorkshire, despite a brilliant 222* from Joe Root, did not have time to significantly close the gap. Their draw against Hampshire coupled with Kent also not playing this week was enough to keep Yorkshire in the promotion zone, though they are not secure there. Kent are only seven points behind having played one fewer match and both Hampshire and Northants (who are 336-5 after two days against Glamorgan) are also within a victory of going second. That should make for a very interesting battle over the last two months of the season.

For Lancashire it was another week of disappointment. There was some worry that the month long break may have broken the good form that they had started to show, but fortunately this proved not to be the case. Lancashire put up their highest score of the season with 485-7 against Surrey at Guildford including centuries from Paul Horton and Steven Croft, the latter an unbeaten 154. Lancs made a good start to the bowling as well, with Chapple hitting Rory Burns’ off stump with the first ball of the innings. But with Surrey on 49-2, Lancs ran into Kevin Pietersen. With a fairly flat pitch and small boundaries he hit an absolutely staggering 234* off only 190 deliveries. Whilst Lancashire have had some trouble finishing sides off this year, this time it was not something that can be put at the feet of the bowlers; Pietersen was simply in unbelievable form. It is still a bit troubling for Lancashire, however, that we have now been in very good positions in each of our last four matches and have only managed to win one of them. The weather has been a factor, but our bowling has been surprisingly flat and it has cost us a good chance to move up the table. We still have some good opportunities coming up, but there are now only six matches left in the season and we still sit sixth in the table (and have played more matches than every other team).

KP’s knock was, of course, the highlight of the week, but it was a good round overall for England players. Andrew Strauss scored exactly fifty of Middlesex’s 98 all out in the first innings (the only other double digit score was Gareth Berg’s 32) and 127 not out in the second. Certainly worrying form for the South Africans ahead of the first Test. Ian Bell also scored 57 for Warwickshire.